LAKE ARLINGTON REZONING
The Fort Worth City Council on May 9 voted to initiate zoning changes to almost 1,900 acres in the Lake Arlington area to comply with the comprehensive plan. The north half is phase one and the south half is phase two.
Both areas contain residential, commercial and industrial uses and vacant land, and have future designations as residential, commercial, mixed-use and industrial use in the Comprehensive Plan. The properties range in zoning from agricultural to heavy industrial.
“It’s still going to be a mix of commercial and residential,” said Dana Burghdoff, assistant director of planning in the planning and development department. “They’re trying to organize some of the density around Berry Street and take advantage of the lake.
“Some of the [current] zoning is inconsistent with the master plan.”
The council-initiated zone changes address themes from the Lake Arlington Master Plan:
* Create a mixed-use urban village along East Berry Street from Loop 820 to Lake Arlington.
* Designate areas along Loop 820 for mixed-use and highway-oriented commercial development.
* Preserve natural vegetation and features along the shoreline and its 100-year floodplain to protect water quality in Lake Arlington.
* Do not create new low-density single-family subdivisions along the lakeshore that back up to the shoreline, precluding public access and eliminating the natural stormwater filtering provided by natural vegetation.
* Support the provision of new housing and multiple housing choices in areas not already developed with low-density single-family subdivisions.
* Provide for well-designed higher density housing to accommodate new residents while conserving open space needed to filter stormwater and protect water quality in Lake Arlington.
During a meeting of property owners in early February, one expressed opposition.
Approval of the changes allows the city manager to submit a rezoning application on Phase 1 for a public hearing by the zoning commission on June 14, followed by a public hearing and possible action by the city council on June 20. A public hearing for Phase 2 by the zoning commission will take place on July 12, with a public hearing and possible action by the city council on Aug. 1.
HIGHWAY 199 CORRIDOR STUDY
In its work session, the council heard a presentation on the Highway 199 Corridor Study. Morris said the Regional Transportation Committee has implemented $100 million for preliminary engineering and improvements along the corridor once all plans are in place and approval is granted to begin.
“This particular project is extremely important, not only to Fort Worth, but to the region,” he said.
Morris noted that since Highway 199 is owned by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), it would benefit the city to keep it in the state system for budgetary reasons. That way, the state would pay the approximately $20 million local match for project funding.
Sandy Wesch, also of NCTCOG, said study covers a section of road that begins at Loop 820, not including the interchange (which is part of a separate TxDOT study), and goes south to Belknap Street for about 6 miles. She said one of the major challenges is the historic context of the highway, which dates back to the 1930s.
“I’m not sure we’re not driving on that same pavement,” she said with a laugh.
She said that about 33,000 vehicles travel the stretch each day and that by the year 2040 that number will be up to 55,000. She said that between 2010 and 2014 there were nine fatalities on the road, including pedestrians.
“There are no sidewalks out here. People are walking on the shoulder,” she said.
She said the proposal is to widen the road to six lanes from Loop 820 to University Drive and then drop to four lanes. She said the project can be done without buying extra right of way.
“Rarely do I have an opportunity to do this,” she said.
A community meeting will be held at the River Oaks Community Center at 6 p.m. on May 31 to discuss the project.
Though no official start date has been set, Councilman Dennis Shingleton said, “Once this gets finished, we’re going to have a quality product out there.”
FW LITERACY PARTNERSHIP UPDATE
The council also heard an update from the Fort Worth Literacy Partnership, which was formed within the last year.
Spokesperson Kristin Sullivan addressed the importance of a program called 100×25, which focuses on the importance of third-graders reading at grade level. She noted that only three of every 10 third-graders in the Fort Worth Independent School District were reading at their grade level when the program began.
Sullivan also cited a study that says third-graders who read at their level are more likely to succeed in high school, college and life, whereas those who do not are four times more likely to drop out of school.
Sullivan also pointed to cities such as Charlotte, Denver and Nashville that have higher third-grade reading levels than Fort Worth and that Fort Worth regularly competes with for business.
“We knew if we were going to implement real change, we were going to have to focus our efforts, and that meant starting with the Fort Worth ISD,” Sullivan said. “But with this data we can also see the good news.”
Sullivan was referencing several high-poverty schools that have found a way to succeed. She cited Bonnie Brae and Morningside elementary schools as examples.
Several Leadership Academies are scheduled to open in the fall, Sullivan said, including Como, Maude Logan, Mitchell Boulevard and John T. White elementary schools, along with Forest Oak Middle School.
Fort Worth Library Director Gleniece Robinson announced a Stop Six pilot this summer.
“While we don’t have all the answers today, we do have a way of starting,” she said.
The literacy partnership is expected to deliver its strategic plan to the council by Aug. 31, Sullivan said.
A Fort Worth Reading Celebration is planned for Sept 24 from 1-4 p.m. at Evans and Rosedale Village, the group announced.
The literacy group has also announced enhanced summer learning opportunities that will be accessible to young children across Fort Worth. This includes a citywide effort to engage young children and families in literacy activities with the Fort Worth Library’s “Worth Reading” campaign.
A key component of the summer learning effort will be the new Summer Scholars program, a free, six-week literacy camp offered by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth and Girls Inc. of Tarrant County for young readers nominated by Maude Logan, Maudrie Walton and Sunrise McMillan elementary schools. The goal of this program is to help elementary students maintain and gain literacy skills during the summer break.
FLUSHING WATER OVERUSE
Overuse of water in Fort Worth is about to go down the drain.
The Fort Worth City Council approved an agreement May 9 with Morrison Supply Co. to buy new tank-style toilets and shower heads to kick off the new year of the water department’s SmartFlush Program.
The program, designed to support water conservation, gives free high-efficiency toilets to residents and business who qualify.
The approval allows for spending up to $2 million to replace up to 12,000 toilets per year. The agreement may be renewed for up to four years and does not require specific council approval if the council has appropriated sufficient funds.
The new high-efficiency toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush. Older toilets use from 3.5 to 7 gallons, particularly those made before 1994.
City officials estimate this adjustment could reduce water consumption by up to 145 million gallons per year. Toilets are the single largest use of water in the home, according to the Fort Worth Water Department.
“The program has been integral in assisting with the modernization of plumbing in homes built before 1994 so that citizens can share in the savings associated with the reduction in water use, and the reduction in water use further assists with the conservation efforts that have allowed the water utility to defer capital costs associated with plant and system expansions originally planned to deal with growth,” said Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa.
Morrison Supply has been involved with the SmartFlush program since its inception in 2009.
“We have been fortunate to partner with the City of Fort Worth and support their mission of water conservation,” said Justin Schraub, branch manager of Morrison Supply Co.
The program has three components with a variety of ways to qualify. There is a voucher system (no income/age guidelines), the CARE Program (age 70 and above/low income), and the commercial program (businesses).
Residents who qualify through the voucher system can receive up to two free WaterSense approved toilets per household. Qualifiers must own or rent a home that was built before 1994 (renters must submit the Landlord Consent Form with their application), have an existing toilet manufactured before 1994 that uses at least three gallons of water per flush, and follow proper disposal methods.
If approved, residents will get a voucher in the mail that is valid for 30 days. The toilets must be installed within 30 days of pick-up and residents are responsible for all installation expenses.
Qualifiers through the CARE Program must be at least 70 years old or meet the federal household income guidelines, have an active Fort Worth water account, own or rent a home built before 1994 with existing high flow toilets that have not been replaced, and have a toilet that is at least 15 years old that uses three or more gallons per flush. If the application is approved, a contracted plumber will install the new toilets free to the customer.
To qualify for the commercial program, the business must be a Fort Worth water customer, the property must have been built before 1994 and it must have high flow toilets that use over three gallons per flush. If fewer than 10 toilets are requested, a voucher will be mailed to pick up the toilets from the supplier. If more than 10 toilets are requested, they will be delivered in increments. Once allotments are completed, the water staff will make a follow-up inspection.
“Water is a finite resource, and it drives economic growth. Making our limited supplies go further helps all of us,” said water conservation specialist Hillary Roberts. “Toilets can last for decades and are one fixture people don’t replace unless they must. When one breaks down, we call a plumber or repair it ourselves.
“In its first seven years we estimate the residential and commercial customers that installed the toilets saw their water use decline by 19 percent in the first year after the installation. We compared their water use prior to the new toilet installation and after the installation. For residential customers, we specifically looked at water use in the winter months when outdoor use is non-existent or minimal.”
Roberts estimated the SmartFlush program has saved Fort Worth customers enough water to take over a million showers.